Let's talk
4 min read

Taking board meeting minutes is a skill. Here’s how to do it better.

Featured Image

Meeting minutes aren’t only to formally record discussions and actions decided by the board, they’re also essential ways to provide motivation, give context to decisions and ensure everyone stays focused. But taking great meeting minutes is a real skill.

In this article, we’ll cover some ways you can instantly make your meeting minutes more accurate, more efficient and ultimately, more valuable.

Read our blog on why minutes are important

Who should be taking the minutes in the board meeting?

Before we delve further into how to take effective meeting minutes, it’s important to consider the who. Although your Board secretary can often be responsible for taking the minutes, it’s also likely to be you or one of your directors, particularly in a SME.

This shouldn’t be seen as an extra drain on valuable time though. Instead, it can be a real benefit for your board and business as whole:

  • Minutes written directly by someone with the necessary experience and authority eliminates the need for a review process.
  • This ensures everything is comprehensively understood with context, capturing accurate minutes without the need for transcribing the entire meeting.
  • Minutes can then be published and distributed immediately on the day of the meeting, reporting the outcome, clarifying actions and action-owners.

Minute taking needs ownership, experience and authority. For effective meeting minutes, it’s vital not to reduce minute taking down to the lowest ranked role in the group, which is why we often recommend meeting minutes are taken by someone at director level.

Read our Board Meeting Guide

Know what should (and shouldn’t) be recorded in the meeting

We can’t say it enough- meeting minutes are not simply a transcript of everything and anything that was said during the discussion of the board meeting. What meeting minutes are though, is a summary of the main points discussed by the board and the action points agreed.

When we say that minute taking for board meetings is a skill, we really mean it. One really common mistake is to record a detailed overview of a discussion, including who said what and when. Instead, minutes should accurately record what the outcomes and decisions were, not the (potentially robust) discussion that got you there.

Action point only Recording the action points only is probably the most common style of minute taking. It’s brief, but doesn’t include the discussion which led to the actions, nor does it include valuable context.
Discussion and action point Actions recorded without context don’t provide a full, valuable picture. And this is we recommend taking minutes that record the discussion and action point. It keeps the minute taking focused, but provides valuable insight too.
Transcript of the meeting This is a record of every single word said at the meeting. It’s unnecessary, long and complicated to follow, and never recommended for taking minutes in a meeting.

 

Preparation is vital for accurate minutes

It’s important that you invest in some preparation beforehand to get the most out of your minute taking. As with everything, preparation makes things easier and more efficient.

This includes making sure you’re familiar with the agenda, the attendees and potential issues to be discussed with important business-specific context. No one likes surprises, and minute takers are no different.

Stop writing. Really.

It can seem counterintuitive can’t it? But actually stopping writing and recording will make your minutes instantly better. That’s because you’ll be able to focus on what is actually being discussed and decided upon, giving you the chance to accurately distil the necessary information into minute-worthy content.

While this does take confidence in your minute taking ability, listening rather than ferociously recording every word will instantly improve your output.

Make sure you’re always objective

This is an essential final point, and it’s key to making sure your meeting meetings are the best they can be. It’s the responsibility of the minute taker to record an unbiased and truthful account of any discussions, decisions and action points of the meeting. This can be a challenge, particularly in family-owned SMEs where feelings can run high in board meetings, but staying objective is essential.

 

 

free download

Our Good Board Meeting Guide is full of tips and information on how you can make your next board meeting run better. Download it here.

 

 DOWNLOAD THE E-BOOK